Dear Rainbow baby,
You have been my comfort after the storm. You continue to be. I think the term “Rainbow baby” is a little bit of a misnomer, because the rainbow after the flood in Genesis was a promise, and a covenant. You have not been promised to me. But in the other sense, where the rainbow appeared in the sky for the first time and Noah and his family saw it and worshiped God–in that sense, that sense of hope, you are my rainbow.
Nine weeks remain until your due date and I love you. I cannot wait to meet you. I realized this last weekend that the expectation of meeting you has finally tipped the scale in its favor, over and against my fear. But until that moment when the cord is cut and you are laid on my chest, breathing and blinking and alive, there will always be a hesitation in me to unleash the fury of my love.
I cope, for now. I have always been a control freak, wrestling away the semblances of control God grants me, holding them tightly against me, pretending they are true and manifest control over my own life. So my way of coping is to frantically prepare myself for the act of childbirth, writing out my plans, organizing my registry, tidying up. But God snatches even that back from me–your daddy gets sick for three weekends he was going to use to work on the nursery, he’s sick during one of our baby classes, my registry discount is unavailable to me yet, and it happened to fall that none of my baby showers occur prior to 32 weeks’ gestation. Which means that despite my obsessive desire to physically prepare for you, I’m still miles from where I need to be.
And at one point, this caused me so much fear and overwhelm that I ended up having twelve Braxton-Hicks contractions in less than two hours (which I later was reprimanded by the nurse for not calling the on-call doctor about), and a breakdown of all my attempts to prepare and was forced to just lie there, and rest, and focus on you and your little kicks and punches.
And truthfully, that’s what I don’t want to do, because I’d rather focus on something that makes me feel in control, and makes me feel prepared. Instead, to focus on you is to feel intensely how much I love you and how much I do not have a bit of control over how often you move, how fast you are growing, how developed your little brain and body. But more than once I have dissolved into a heap of desperate love and admitted to myself that time loving you and trusting our God is what I need to do the most.
So much unknown comes after you are born. How will I feel meeting you, when I never got to meet my first baby? Will I have post-partum depression again, and if I do, will I realize it and seek help? How much will it change my marriage? How much will I miss my job? It all seems negative and fearful because the true positive, the hope and joy and love in meeting you, is the one thing I cannot control and cannot allow myself to dwell on.
I always come back to Brennan Manning though. He is the patron saint of this pregnancy. He writes, “But what about doubts and worries? Do they, too, signal a rejection of God’s Kingdom? Not necessarily. There can be no faith without doubt, no hope without anxiety, and no trust without worry. These shadow us from dawn to dusk; indeed, they appear even in our dreams. As long as we withhold internal consent to these varied faces of fear, they are no cause for alarm, because they are not voluntary. When they threaten to consume us, we can overpower them with a simple and deliberate act of trust: ‘Jesus, by your grace I grow still for a moment and I hear you say, ‘”Courage! It’s me! Don’t be afraid.'” I place my trust in your presence and your love. Thank you.'”
And for the first time in my life I consistently give myself grace for my fears and doubts. All of them are founded on a legitimate cause. I lost one beloved child; I fear losing another. But to have hope at all of meeting you, to allow myself to feel love for you, I must withhold consent from those fears and allow that peace of Christ to remind me that He is good, and he knows how to give good gifts to his children. However contradictory it appears to my actual experience, in a worldly sense, it remains true that what He does is good and what He will do, whatever He will do, will also be good.
I suppose the same is true of his rainbows. We are not promised no storms at all. But we are promised his grace and his restoration after those storms. I hope you are mine.